YA Read-Alikes for Netflix's "Monster"

Beyond the original Walter Dean Myers title that the movie adapted, here are some book recommendations for teens who like Netflix's Monster.


Netflix. Rated R. Available now.

This adaptation of Walter Dean Myers’s modern classic YA novel, which premiered at Sundance in 2018, released on Netflix in May. The film follows a 17-year-old African American film student through the criminal justice system after he’s accused of murder.


Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam. Balzer + Bray. 2020.
Gr 8 Up–Accused of a crime he didn’t commit, Amal, an African American teen, is sent to prison where he finds ways to deal with his anger through art.  Based on the real experiences of author Yusef Salaam, this powerful novel in verse will appeal to readers looking for gritty stories about teens in the criminal justice system.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Balzer + Bray. 2017.
Gr 9 Up–After her friend is killed by a police officer, African American teen Starr’s life is turned upside down as violent protests break out in her urban neighborhood. Readers looking for intense, authentic stories about social justice issues will enjoy this stirring read.

How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon. Henry Holt. 2014.
Gr 9 Up–Multiple bystanders and participants of varying ages and races piece together events in the aftermath of a perceived robbery and shooting that left a 16-year-old African American boy dead. Readers who appreciate the innovative format of the novel Monster, which is written as a screenplay, may also enjoy the frequent shifts in perspective of this riveting novel.

Abby Johnson is the collection development leader at the Floyd County (IN) Library.

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